Docs

C4 revisits The Troubles in new Mark Cousins commission

British pubcaster Channel 4 has commissioned a new doc about The Troubles — the political conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted from the 1960s to ’90s — from DoubleBand Films. Filmmaker ...
July 17, 2019

British pubcaster Channel 4 has commissioned a new doc about The Troubles — the political conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted from the 1960s to ’90s — from DoubleBand Films.

Filmmaker and writer Mark Cousins (pictured) anchors the project, returning to Belfast, which he left at 18, to reflect on how his home region and its history have been used and sometimes abused by cinema.

Coinciding with the 50-year anniversary of the eruption of riots in Northern Ireland, he will visit Belfast’s once-grand cinemas to go over the history of the conflict and how it has been depicted onscreen.

Cousins returns to C4 for the first time since his landmark series The Story of Film: An Odyssey in 2011.

The Troubles on Film is produced by DoubleBand Films, with funding from Northern Ireland Screen. Ben O’Loan serves as producer. Dermot Lavery and Michael Hewitt executive produce, and Shaminder Nahal is commissioning editor.

The one-hour film will be joined by special programming on C4. Film4 will be showing a season of films about the Northern Irish experience, like Steve McQueen’s Hunger, Yann Demange’s ’71 and Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game. The narrative features will be followed by new short films from Northern Ireland commissioned by ‘Random Acts,’ C4′s short film strand dedicated to the arts.

“Mark is a truly international treasure — here he turns his poetic vision homewards in a profoundly moving and personal journey. For this important 50-year landmark Mark brings fresh insight and challenges conventional wisdom, working with director Brian Henry Martin,” said Nahal in a statement. “We are delighted to complement Mark’s work with some of the seminal films about The Troubles, as well as looking forwards to the new talents from Northern Ireland as part of our ‘Random Acts’ strand.”

“Instead of talking directly about war, we’ve decided to look at movies,” added Cousins. “That makes it sound as if we’ve trivialized The Troubles, but we haven’t. We wanted to dig into the imagination of Northern Ireland in the last half-century — its fear and escapism. We’ve told the story of one ordinary kid who, as hate grew, fell in love — not with a person, but with the silver screen. I’m usually behind the camera, but this time I’m onscreen, talking about my passion for films, exposing my emotions (and more!). Northern Ireland has for so long been seen as a problem, but it was also a just a place, a place where young people yearned for something more, for fulfillment and a kind of sublime. Our film is about that yearning.”

(Photo courtesy of Channel 4)

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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